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Staff Picks: Four Valentine's Day Books You Didn't Know You Needed



Kathleen is an award-winning poet and a librarian at New Orleans Public Library. She currently serves on the Stonewall Book Award committee for children's and young adult literature.

This February, I would like to extend a gentle challenge to everyone, everywhere: read a Queer love story for Valentine’s Day. 

“But aren’t these books written for LGBTQIA+ readers?” you might ask. Yes! They are also written for all readers, and a good book is good precisely because it has wide appeal, so let’s not wait until Pride Month to support Queer books and authors. Trust me: these stories are so good, you don’t want to wait until June to read them. 

Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, illustrated by Charlene Chua  

An adorable story with universal appeal about first crushes and working up the courage to give that homemade valentine to the one kid in school who makes your palms sweat and your heart flutter.

This is a Stonewall Book Award winner for children’s literature this year, and for good reason. It’s affirming to LGBTQ children, but relatable for everyone. 

And, the illustrations are delightful. 

The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor

Don’t let the cover deceive you! This book has both literary merit and high appeal for tweens, teens, and adult readers alike.

The plot is simple: 12-year-old Jeremy finds solace in a budding romance with a local boy while coping with the unexpected from his newly-divorced parents. The writing and the characters are unforgettable. 

Add this one to your list of “Books to Pass Around the Family.” 

Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk 

A friendship between teen girls becomes an obsessive and highly-charged love affair with a side of pyromania in this unique and exquisite book that will keep you guessing until the end. 

This is an easy one to devour, and the audiobook version is equally captivating. But don’t be fooled: reading this book is like giving yourself a masterclass in poetry and fiction-writing! 

The Dove in the Belly by Jim Grimsley 

Opposites attract in this spare and finely-crafted gem about two college boys in the 1970s who carry on a secret relationship. At first, their connection seems to be mostly physical, until they surprise themselves by falling in love. 

A slow burn with high literary value and a few very well-placed steamy scenes, this book will stay with you long after reading it.

The audiobook version is also excellent.

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